Robert Lewandowski off the mark in return as Bayern beat Barcelona yet again: Reaction, ratings

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MUNICH, Germany — Second-half goals from Lucas Hernandez and Leroy Sane spoiled Robert Lewandowski‘s return to Allianz Arena as Bayern Munich defeated Barcelona 2-0 in Champions League Group C action.

It was an unhappy return to Bavaria for Lewandowski, who is Bayern’s second-highest all-time scorer but left in the summer after eight years to join the Catalan side.

The loss extends Barcelona’s rough run of results in Munich. The Blaugrana have now failed to win in their last seven visits to Bavaria, recording two draws and five defeats.

Bayern now top of their group on six points from two matches. Barcelona are on three points, along with InternazionaleViktoria Plzen are in last place.

1. Bayern dominate Barcelona once again

Bayern Munich extended their dominance over Barcelona with a 2-0 Champions League Group C victory in the Allianz Arena, recording their fifth straight win against the LaLiga giants. Two goals in the space of four minutes in the second-half — a Lucas Hernandez header on 51 minutes followed by Leroy Sane‘s solo goal three minutes after — were enough to seal the victory and move Bayern clear at the top of their group.

And the win means Bayern have now won by a margin of 19 goals to Barcelona’s four during their five-game streak, including the infamous 8-2 quarterfinal victory in Lisbon in 2020. Barca also suffered two 3-0 defeats against Julian Nagelsmann’s team last season. To compound Barcelona’s misery, Bayern have now scored 30 goals against them in the Champions League, nine more than Paris Saint-Germain, the second-most prolific team against the Spanish club.

Although they created a number of first-half chances for Robert Lewandowski, Barcelona rarely looked like emerging with a win in Germany and they had no response to Bayern’s powerhouse start to the second-half. Xavi Hernandez’s team are still clearly rebuilding after the departure of Lionel Messi to PSG last year and they looked a level below Bayern who once again inflicted a humbling defeat on the five-time Champions League winners.

2. Lewandowski’s tough night in Bayern return

Bayern’s second-most prolific scorer didn’t have to wait long for his first game back after his summer departure, but he endured a frustrating night against his old team. The Poland forward, one of the world’s great players during the past decade, simply couldn’t find his shooting boots, despite being given a series of chances to score.

Had he been able to finish in his usual clinical fashion, Lewandowski would have silenced the Allianz Arena with a hat-trick even before halftime. But Lewandowski’s radar was way off and he failed to take any of his opportunities. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer denied him with a reflex save from a 20th minute header, but Lewandowski should have scored moments earlier when he shot over the bar from ten yards after being teed up by Gavi.

Some last-ditch challenges by Dayot Upamecano and Noussair Mazraoui also denied Lewandowski when he had sight of goal, but it was just one of those nights when nothing went right for the 34-year-old.

There was one good aspect of the evening, though. When he emerged for the pre-match warm-up, Lewandowski was given a rousing reception by the home fans. No boos or jeers, just respect for his contribution to Bayern’s success — but that’s all he left with.

3. Barcelona, Inter Milan now locked to finish second

Barcelona thought, or hoped, that their brief taste of the Europa League after failing to qualify from their Champions League group last season was nothing more than a one-off, but they could be facing a repeat this time around Tuesday’s defeat.

There’s obviously no shame in being beaten by the perennial Bundesliga champions, but with Bayern now clear at the top of Group C with two wins from two games, second place is shaping up to be a straight fight between Barca and Internazionale.

Both of the European heavyweights have lost to Bayern but beaten Viktoria Plzen, so now it will all come down to who does best when they meet in back-to-back matchdays on Oct. 4 and 12. And with Inter hosting the first game in the San Siro next month, Barca know that they cannot afford another defeat on the road when they travel to Italy.

Bayern, Barca and Inter are likely to take maximum points against Czech champions Plzen. So it’s all on the line between Barca and Inter. Benfica were able to beat Barca to second spot in the group last season, but Inter are a stronger team. The Catalans are still in transition under Xavi, so the odds favour the Nerrazzurri.